I had lunch with my old dance teacher and a couple of dance friends on Saturday. We–of course–talked about dance and where we were and what she was up to. She told us of some former students of hers who are now at companies, and some of the students she has now that are absolutely new to dance and how different it is for them. The contrast was immense.
One of my friends brought up the “rivalry” between our studio and another studio (we tend to be rivals with all the other studios? I don’t know.) and how my friend had noticed an atmosphere difference. She described the girls as “snooty” whereas at our new studio, they were warmer.
Jilissa pointed out that the girls who may come across as snooty could actually just be very focused. Many dancers can come off that way, solely because they are so determined to do their best and work their hardest. It’s all about them, not because they’re selfish, but because it takes so much work on yourself to improve.
My new dance teacher touched on the rivalry last night after we received a letter expressing frustration with our dancers and how they disrespected the other studio. Turned into a life like episode of Dance Moms, in turn just a bunch of misinterpretation and assumptions. (An adult even yelled at one of our Clara’s, who is seriously the sweetest thing in the world. And like, 12. Who does that?)
During rehearsal yesterday, we had a challenging warm up. The teacher who was leading it is the teacher from the advanced class, and he just says it once through and you do it. Most dancers got shook up by this, especially if they weren’t used to it, or new to it entirely. But Brian doesn’t mess around, and even though it was a bit challenging, I loved it. It would take some getting used to, but I loved it.
But I liked being with all (most all) of the company dancers. I seriously have visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head. I want to work hard and be like that one day. These girls are absolutely beautiful dancers and captivating to watch. I loved being among them. Sometimes about being surrounded by someone better than you makes you strive to be better. I appreciated that.
On the same thought, it made me realize how lax so many people are. Maybe I have a different view coming at this from being older, but some of them just seem to take it for granted. They have this studio full of amazing teachers imparting such wisdom into them, yet they show disrespect, and talk about pointless stuff, and don’t pay attention and waste time. The ones who improve? The ones who become the advanced dancers? The ones who go on to become bigger and better dancers as whole? The ones who pay attention.
You can see it in the Clara’s. Anyone can want to be a Clara, but you have to work for it. Want isn’t enough. You have to strive.
Dictionary.com defines the following
to feel a need or desire for; wish for
To exert oneself vigorously; try hard
See the difference? Those Clara’s work hard–and they have to. All the choreography they do, all the roles they play, all the rehearsals they have to attend. You have to be sharp and pay attention. You have to try hard.
Sure, you’ll still advance if you just dance during class. You’ll get better with time. But if you really work hard at it, you’ll be that much better that much quicker.
It’s the difference between someone going struggling to keep up, and someone who actually dances their part. The difference between seeing the fear, panic, and thought process on their face, and seeing the character.
The audience typically doesn’t know how difficult it is. It’s our job to make ballet look easy. That’s the beauty of it. To take the pain away from the viewer, to feel light as air.
You may not have the rest of your life to dance. You might not do this after you graduate. Sure, you miss some social things or whatever. Ballet is sacrifice. And honestly, the work you put into it won’t let you down. People let you down, heck your own body might even let you down, but hard work won’t. Not in something like this.
Saturday’s rehearsal was a little different.
We’ve gotten to the part of the rehearsal season where we know the dance and mainly just need to work out all the kinks. Ms. Munro wasn’t there, so we had Ms Alex running it with us, as well as some of the company members (I’m assuming?) Helping out, one of whom I didn’t know.
We ran it through the first time, and Ms. Alex comes over to us and tells us individual critiques, “You need to make sure your knee is straight when you pique on to it. You need to make sure that your feet are pointed. Oh, they’re flexed during that part? Okay, then that’s good. Everyone flex your feet on that ending jump. And you,” she looked at me, “You were the only one who smiled the entire time. You all need to do that, too, make sure you don’t forget your face!” Building up to the moment where she’s going around and looking and different girls and giving corrections, I found myself nervous. Then to get a praise instead of a correction, I was taken back. I found myself thinking that surely there was a time I wasn’t smiling, especially since I don’t remember thinking about it the whole time. Sure, there are times I remember, but not all the time. I guess this is when my awkward smiling-all-the-time-no-matter-what thing comes in handy. (Times it doesn’t come in handy: when you’re getting a ticket and they take a picture of you that you know nothing about and when you try to fight it the prosecutor is confused as to why you look so happy to be pulled over.) Stupid defense mechanism… Maybe all my theater training is finally coming in handy.
We ran it a few more times and Ms. Alex pointed out the different things that needed cleaning up, which made me really happy, because that is what really bothers me most as an audience member. As we went on, she complimented me and my partner Summer quite often, which made us feel really good. She even used us as an example of how it was supposed to be done. Yep, we were freaking out internally and to each other.
Overall, I’m really proud of the girls. They’ve done amazing and have really grown in their skill and musicality. It’s a good season.
While they rehearsed the lead Chinese, I took a couple pictures. (Since I had a photo shoot before and had my camera.)
Yesterday I left rehearsal feeling better than I did going in.
During rehearsal yesterday, we got to watch the tail end of the Mirliton rehearsal before us.
One of my friends from my old studio was cast in this role, and I was absolutely beaming with pride at how she is taking on these roles and thriving. Like, seriously, I’m beyond proud.
So anyway, I was watching them rehearse, and it seemed like Ms. Munro was only getting onto Annika. Granted, most of these girls have danced this role for years and years and years, and this is Annika’s first time, so the poor girl has had her work cut out for her. But she takes the correction, and runs with it, and thrives, and *tears* so proud.
And the fact that she just turned 15 last week and new to this studio and already dancing soloist roles and keeping up with these girls that have done these roles for years blows my mind.
I had this thought process while watching Ms Munro correct her:
“You got this, Annika. Don’t let it bother you. She picks on the ones that show promise.”
Because, see, the other girls weren’t perfect either. But she kept correcting Annika. Whether it is because she knows the other girls temperaments, (they’re the ones late for class every week) or something else, she kept correcting Annika until she was perfect.
Because when she corrects her, she takes it, and does it.
Because she knows it’ll make her a better dancer.
Because she knows she’ll rise out of the sting of the correction and be better.
And it’s like life.
It seems that all the best people have the most junk thrown at them.
It seems like the people who just couldn’t care less are the ones doing alright.
Life picks on the ones that show promise.
Hold on, there, little Mirliton.
You’ll be better for all this.
The greatest thing a teach can shout at you in class after, “Good” “Great” or “Yes”